“Ah man, we never even got to see one of his awesome free kicks…”
That is likely to be the response from fans of Major League Soccer and the New York Red Bulls after today’s announcement that Brazilian legend Juninho has agreed to cancel his contract.
After only half a season in MLS, Juninho didn’t do much to endear himself to Red Bulls fans. Reports concerning Juninho’s retirement at the end of this season has surfaced recently, but there’s no need to worry about that now.
The 38-year-old former Lyon star was always a questionable acquisition by New York. Just check out Steve Davis’ take on Juninho when he signed way back in December 2012.
Ahem, told you so.
The fact that we never got to see one of those magnificent dipping free kicks which Juninho made his trademark whilst at Lyon upsets me. And Steve. And probably most soccer fans out there. Because boy, they were spectacular.
It seemed that every time I watched a Lyon game on the European highlights show as a youngster, Juninho would arch some incredible free kick into the top corner. The bend he got on those babies make Cristiano Ronaldo’s set pieces look pedestrian.
But the fact that I can recall Juninho’s brilliance way back to my early childhood, is in essence the main problem here. Major League Soccer is full of tremendous athletes, who play throughout the summer in hot conditions, on turf fields and it is an extremely physically demanding league. Juninho is 38. He is slight. And he doesn’t want to do much running anymore. He is a playmaker. His type may be dying out in MLS.
On his official Facebook page Juninho spoke of his decision to cancel his contract with New York. “I am leaving New York because I wasn’t playing well. Also I wasn’t getting along with the manager.”
He also said that he would return to his homeland to think about his next move.
You can’t blame the Red Bulls for giving him a try. In theory, having a dead ball specialist on hand and someone to sit in behind the front two and create chances for Thierry Henry and Fabian Espindola was a magical idea. But that’s all it was. In fact Juninho got more yellow cards (5) than assist (4) and didn’t score once in his 13 matches with New York.
We said it on this blog when Juninho signed. Quote: “Debilitating heat and burden of soccer-combat in a highly physical league, can sometimes leave technical types ill equipped to deal with it all. We’ll see.”
We did see. And we were right here at Pro Soccer Talk. But that does nothing to numb the pain of never seeing Juninho Pernambucano bend one of those magical free kicks into an MLS net.
Oh well, can’t win ’em all. Best of luck in your future endeavors, Juninho.